Make the Most of Your Virtual Memory - Learn to tweak your Windows VM for optimal speed and performance. Wondering what's slowing your computer down? Virtual memory may be the culprit. Windows uses the hard drive as a virtual place to store memory. This slows your computer down. Adding more RAM can help. Short of that, you can make a few tweaks, including defragging, to help virtual memory run faster. What is virtual memory? Virtual memory (VM) is essentially a file on your hard drive where Windows can stash extra bits of data it doesn't have space for in the system's RAM. How does VM work? Windows always wants more memory than it has, no matter how much memory it has. So to clear out space in the system's memory -- temporarily -- it moves data out of the memory and onto the swap file it calls Virtual Memory When Windows needs to vacate a chunk of physical memory to make space for another program, it writes the data from that chunk of memory space into VM file on the hard drive. That opens the RAM for use by the most pressing program. When Windows needs the data again, it writes it back into the physical memory from the virtual memory on the hard drive. This process happens over and over again as the memory needs of the various applications you run on your system change. Unfortunately, the process runs hundreds of times slower than the RAM on your motherboard. On systems with less than 32 MB of memory, you can often hear the hard disk thrashing while Windows moves data back and forth. Optimize Your System's Memory Virtual memory allows Windows to run more and larger programs with a limited amount of memory. Even if you increase the amount of physical memory inside your system, you still need VM. Even if you move hundreds of MB of memory, you'll still have a file on your hard drive called Win386.swp, where your VM lives. Demand more RAM Increasing the amount of RAM on your system is the best way to minimize your use of VM. Moving from 16 MB up to 64 MB of RAM will make the most notable improvements for traditional office applications. Programs that typically use huge files, such as photo, audio, and video editing software, show the most dramatic performance improvements with larger amounts of RAM How to Tweak Your VM We've read that Win98 is much better at managing virtual memory than Win95. You can tweak your Win98 virtual memory settings for "best performance," but we don't think it's worth messing with. Of course, both Win98 and Win95 will benefit if you regularly defrag your hard drive. If you're running Win95, or if you just want to see if you can make Win98 run a touch faster, follow these steps. Adjust your virtual memory settingsDefrag your hard drive(s) and reboot your system.
Right click on My Computer and select Properties.
Click on the Performance tab in that window, then select the button marked Virtual Memory at the bottom right. VM is normally set to "Let Windows manage my virtual memory settings."
Check "Let me specify my own virtual memory settings."
Set the Maximum and Minimum values for VM to the same value. This prevents the OS from spending clock cycles resizing the swap file. This should be between two and three times the amount of RAM on your motherboard. Err on the high side of this value. (We've read that you can set the Maximum button to "No Maximum" and just state a minimum value for your VM, but this didn't work on the Win98 systems we tried.)
It helps to move the VM file, Win386.swp, to the fastest part of the hard drive. Win98 is supposed to do this automatically. Just make sure the disk offers enough space for the swap file to expand. Should You Shut Off Virtual Memory? No. There is an option for shutting off VM, (check the box next to "Disable virtual memory") but we advise against it. When I shut it off and rebooted I was only able to run one program at a time. This was on a 200MHz Pentium with 64 MB of RAM. Your results may vary, but we advise you to mess with this one at your own risk. VCache may be the answer If you have tons of RAM and you still think your system spends too much time dawdling with VM, you might want to tweak VCache. Windows uses VCache to store recently used data in its main memory. It's a speed boost, but it can also take over a fair chunk of your physical memory, in turn reducing the amount of memory available for applications and increasing your use of VM.
Hosted by